Saturday, August 30, 2008

And Blah, Blah

Okay. It's Labor Day weekend and so Mr. Moon and I will be going to the beach, sipping gin and tonics, lazing around the pool, having good ol' fried chicken and potato salad picnics, shopping for antiques and gazing into each other's eyes while sitting under the stars on the balcony of our room at a romantic B&B.
No. Instead, we'll be digging out the foundation around a building we own that leaked during the torrential rains of Tropical Storm Fay. In the heat. In the humidity. Gulping warm water from a hose. Wearing gloves and sunscreen which will drip into my eyes and burn the crap out of them.
Yep. That's the glamorous life here in North Florida.

Okay. On to the next subject.
I can't stop thinking about this Sarah Palin woman. I hear there's a rumor going around that her Down Syndrome child is actually not HER child but the illegitimate child of her teenaged daughter. Right. Whatever. I don't care who actually gave birth to the child. Ms. Palin claims it as her own and what sort of a mother goes back to work when her premature, special needs baby is three days old? Maybe it's completely un-PC to say such a thing but really- is that the action of a woman who is adamantely pro-family? Who the hell is raising her kids? I don't think it's her husband, Todd. He has a job with the BP corporation.
I could go on but I won't.
At this moment, anyway.

Have all you heterosexually-inclined married couples started feeling the urge to get a divorce? If so, it's because Ellen Degeneris married Portia de Rossi. I just thought I'd point that out. So if you and your spouse are having problems, don't blame yourselves! It's those damn gay people getting married and threatening our legitimate, God-blessed unions. Heterosexual marriage was doing JUST FINE until the gays started getting married. Really.

Perhaps anyone contemplating marriage, whether gay or straight or whatever, should, as a test of their committment, shovel out the foundation of a building in North Florida on Labor Day Weekend. Any couple can feel good about a relationship if they're on vacation, lazing around a pool or on the damn beach sipping gin and tonics. But if you can survive hard labor fueled by hose water together, then you've got a good thing goin'.

Has anyone in the entire history of the universe ever been influenced to vote for someone based on seeing either that person or a representative of him/her waving a sign on a street corner during five o'clock traffic?
Please report in if you know the answer to this question.

Why, in my rural county, did Tropical Storm Fay manage to topple over giant trees but leave all the damn political signs made of paper and cardboard and flimsy wooden stakes standing intact?
And when are the candidates going to go around and collect these pieces of trash? The election is OVER, people.

And now I must end this and get to town because Mr. Moon is stranded at Home Depot with a locked truck and I must take him a key. After I put on my overalls and sunscreen.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, August 29, 2008

You're Kidding Me, Right?

An avid right-to-lifer, a woman with no foreign policy experience, she was runner up in a beauty contest and she has a degree in journalism.
Yeah. That's the best McCain could come up with.
And if he thinks that women who supported Hillary are going to vote for him because of HER, he is sadly underestimating women, which does not surprise me in the least.
This woman is not in any way, shape or form fit for the office of the vice president of the United States which proves that McCain is not either.
That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

I Think He Can

Last night during Obama's speech I suddenly blurted out loud, "He's going to win!"

That man can talk like no one I've heard in years. His words were measured, they were powerful, they were inspiring, they were strong. He looked planted on this earth, he looked like a leader. He was not angry. He was certain and sure.

Can he do it? Can he pull this off?

My God, I hope so.

I have even more optimism after attending yoga class this morning. All during class I wanted to ask my teacher if she'd seen the speech and if so, what she thought. But she's such a strong believer in the Republican ideals, whatever that means, and knowing for a fact she voted for Bush twice, I just didn't want to start anything while we were trying to focus on our breath and our bodies.

BUT, after class, she asked me if I'd seen the speech and what I'd thought.

I told her I had and that I'd been impressed.

And then she said that she hadn't voted for a Democrat in over thirty years but that she's pretty sure she's going to vote for Obama.


The contrast between Obama and his beautiful family and McCain and his old, gnarly self and overly blond wife is so huge. And not just physically, not just appearance-wise. Every thing about them is so vastly different.

There is nothing McCain can say about Obama that can undermine the true miracle of strength and belief on the part of his mother and himself that got him to this place where he is today. He deserves it because he's earned it, working against insane odds.

And that's just the truth.

Truth is a funny word to use in the context of a political campaign and I remain a cynic at heart. I don't believe that anyone could keep all the promises that Obama made last night, but that's okay. I liked the promises he made. They showed that his heart was in the right place. I think he wimped out on the rights of our GLBT citizens and I'm not happy about that.
But we gotta start somewhere.

Obama may not be Superman, but he has the power of speech, he has the power of inspiration.

I'm hoping with all my heart he has the power to move the undecided, the unhappy, the disgusted to get up off their asses and cast a vote for him. Because we need him. At least he sure sounds like what we need.

A man who was raised by a struggling single mother. A man who was born of two races. A man who knows the constitution so well that he taught it. A man who can say with personal knowledge that the government MUST help those who cannot raise themselves by their boot straps if they don't have boots. A man who has a crazy name, big ears, and the wrong color skin and yet somehow manages to look presidential in a country where being president means being white. A man who seems earnest and in control of himself.

I'm holding my breath. I'm watching him burst out of the phone booth of racism and seemingly unwinnable odds.

I'm watching him fly.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Blogging Through The Fog

I am having a hard time writing these days and have been, ever since the anxiety came to visit and even though I'm (mostly) feeling so much better, I'm still finding it hard to have coherent thoughts about anything I feel anyone would be interested in.
Which makes me very anxious.
But ah, it's late summer and the hurricane lilies are sending up their skinny green stalks, soon to open into other-worldly blossoms of red while we watch the hurricanes' cones of doom change and reform every six hours on the wunderground website and here in North Florida we are still driving around, looking at pine trees seemingly growing out of lakes and being very, very amazed because we haven't ever seen water like this before, poured out in such an amount and so quickly that five days later, it still sits, nowhere to go, no hurry to leave anyway.
And it's hot and it's humid. I spent about an hour and a half this afternoon in the yard, picking up branches tiny and large that broke free during Fay's visit and trundled them over to the burn pile and I sweated and I wiped my brow and finally had to call it a day and came in and passed out.
I had lunch the other day with the film commissioner of the state of Florida who happens to be my ex-husband's wife and also my Lis, who was here for a short visit, and I sat at the table, trying to pay attention to the conversation, lettuce occasionally falling from my mouth (especially every time my ex's wife looked at me while making a point about her job), making me feel even duncier than I felt already. These two women, good friends from way back, are women I love and with whom I'm friends and both of them are ambitious and incredibly talented and know everyone in the S.E. who is anyone in certain worlds of music and art.
I felt so strange then, sitting at that table at a downtown restaurant, trying to keep up with the words they were speaking. I felt like I was on one planet, and they another, a loftier one, one more rich with possibility and purpose, one filled with people like them, talented and driven and strong and creative and smart who know what to wear and what to say.
And that's how I'm feeling these days, overwhelmed by underachievment, overtaken by a miasma of sweating through long, hot days of mosquitoes and snakes, chores that are essentially meaningless and struggling with words that don't begin to say what I need to say, even if I knew what that was.
I cook the fish, I sweep the floor, I listen to my husband, I try to understand.
I try to understand.
I try to see through the fog that seems to engulf every landmark, every detail, every hint of the path that lies before me, searching and squinting for something to come up out of that grayness that will point me in the direction I need to go now that the kids are grown, now that my world has shifted so dramatically and suddenly.
I'm like all of us who knew a storm was coming last weekend, who thought we were prepared, and who, when it really happened, sat with mouths agape, watching water pour down with a force we couldn't have imagined.
For thirty-two years I was so involved in the one-task-after-another days that I lived that I didn't give a thought to the certainty of the time when those tasks would not be needed to be done, when the children grew up.
I didn't know the time would pour down upon me like this, so suddenly and so unexpectedly, even though I surely must have known it would.
I always thought I'd write and here I am, the time to do it, and nothing comes.
Forget the fiction, I can't even write a blog. I say the same things over and over.
I just have to believe that the time will come when the fog will blow away, when the slender stalks of the hurricane lily will shock me again with color and form, and I'll know a little better where I'm going, what I'm doing, and have the strength to go there and do that.
Until then, I'm just floundering in the floodwaters, trying to keep my head above it, trying not to lose hope, trying to remember that although I don't have the vision now, I will.
I hope.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Question Salad

Do they give presidential candidates psychological evaluation tests? Don't you have to get one of those things to work at oh, say...McDonald's? Because if they don't, WHY NOT? I'm pretty sure McCain wouldn't pass one. And don't tell me that anyone who spent five years in a box might not do so well on certain portions of such a test. I understand that. And I also understand that this is a good reason NOT to elect someone to run the country, instead of it being a good reason to think he could handle the job. If Bush had been given one of those tests every year I think we'd be in a different situation right now than we are.

"So, you think God talks to you and tells you to create democracy in the Middle East by going to war? Really? Huh."
And so forth.

Why does nature have to be so damn cruel? My husband was sitting on the back porch two days ago and witnessed a large oak snake and a squirrel fall from a tree together. The squirrel proceeded to bite the snake repeatedly and then run back up the tree. The snake proceeded to finish off his tasty snack of fresh baby squirrel, ending with the tiny tail of the poor creature. He then crawled up under my office to digest in peace.
Disconcerting for the humans watching. Fine dining for the snake. Tragedy for the mama squirrel who cried from the tree for a good long while. And where is that snake now?

Why do I have dogs? Four dogs?

Why didn't Hillary get the nomination? And don't tell me it's because not enough people voted for her in the primaries. I know that. But why didn't they? Don't get me wrong. It's WAY overdue for us to have a black family in the White House and I'm going to get behind Obama like his mama but, but, BUT, dammit! Ms. Clinton would have made such a fine president.

And speaking of- I'm wondering what the effect of having a black man as president will be when it comes to the hopes and aspirations of little kids who have skin darker than paper? Will it give the nerdy studious ones a fresh new dream that maybe they didn't have before? Will they now believe that even if they can't play basketball and don't have a talent for rapping they can still be someone important when they grow up? Maybe? Is it even possible for a white person to begin to realize the full impact that having a man of color as president will have on the many, many non-white people of this country?

Will I ever feel truly normal again? Will I ever wake up and just be okay? How is that possible when these stupid storms keep forming and churning and building and twisting and blowing themselves into land where they cause flooding and devastation? And why do I feel so guilty wishing the storms to head anywhere but here? No matter what piece of land they crash into, they are going to create havoc and homelessness, death and destruction. Why is my house, my peace of mind, my community any more deserving of escape than any other? It's not, of course, but I'm human and I wish those damn things to travel as far from me as possible, meanwhile REALLY wishing they'd just churn themselves out in the Gulf, which they never do. Or better yet, just not form to begin with.

Where WILL Gustav hit?

And what, oh what, should I cook for dinner?

These and many more questions are what I am pondering today.

What are you walking around wondering about?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tropical Storm Fay, Where Are You Today?

Well, the sun is actually shining, the rooster next door is crowing his red little heart out and the crickets are taking it to church. It's eleven o'clock on a Monday morning and the sound of the generator is no longer heard across the land but I can hear a chain saw and I expect I'll be hearing more of that as the day goes on.
That was some weekend. It had its ups and downs, I have to say.
We went to bed fairly early on Friday night with the storm starting to settle in with some pretty good gusty wind and rain. The electricity went off around eleven thirty and we knew what that meant which was: WE SHOULD HAVE FIXED THE GENERATOR!
Oh boy.
We slept through the night, got up and I made a huge breakfast because I knew things were going to go bad in the refrigerator before it was all over and more importantly- what else did I have to do? Raining outside, no paper, no internet. Just hungry people and worried dogs. Jessie had spent the night but she was eager to get back to town to get ready for school and do more settling into her apartment. When things seemed to have settled down some, she packed up the car and took off, leaving me in a state of near-panic until she called to say she'd made it just fine.
Since the rain had slacked off some, Mr. Moon and I decided to go take a little walk and it felt great to get out of the house, even if we were the only people in Lloyd who were deliberately outside in the wet. I wanted to see how full the little sinkhole where I walk was and what we found was a rushing waterfall across a road into it with a current so strong I didn't want to cross it. I was, quite frankly, amazed.
The rain picked up but we were already drenched so we walked up to the bridge over a part of Lloyd Creek. The water was high but the amazing thing was the sound of the frogs who live in the swamps on both side of the creek. They were screaming in fits of what I can only assume was sexual frenzy. A few were hopping across the road, in search of more fetching partners, I guess, and although I could not see the activity going on in the swamp, I imagined millions of small, gray slick frogs in an orgy of egg-laying and fertilization, the likes of which has not been seen since the Woodstock festival back in 1969. It was a frightening visual image and one I fought all night long as every time I awoke I could hear the continued roaring of ecstatic amphibians.
By the time we got home from our walk, the rain was pouring down harder than I'd ever seen it in my life and I have seen some rain. Around five there was a radio alert that a tornado had formed about five miles south of here and was heading north. This was not good news.
Mr. Moon and I sat on the back porch and watched the torrential rains and kept our eyes on the tops of the trees to watch for any tornado-like movement and to listen for the sound of a train.
We did not hear one and after about an hour, we figured we were safe and proceeded to drink and play cards and grill meat with the vast relief that only escaping death can bring.
By Sunday morning most of the storm had passed although we got a few more rain bands which brought the total of rainfall up to over twenty-something inches. We kept dumping the rain gauge but it kept overfilling so I'm not sure what it really was. It was a lot.
The local creek is not a creek anymore but a lake with tributaries of rivers that at the peak flowed over the railroad trestle and flooded the road. My neighbor across the street who has lived here in Lloyd for most of life said he'd never seen anything like it and his mother, who has lived here since she was a child and who is over eighty, agreed. The post office flooded and lots of trees, hydrated beyond tolerance, gave up the fight with gravity and toppled over, many of them taking electric lines with them. Hundreds of miles of roads in this county were not passable and I figured it would be a miracle if we got our power back on in a week.
But, the miracle occurred and it did come back on yesterday in the early evening and so now, I suppose, life will return to normal, whatever the hell that is.
I thought a lot about the folks who lived in this house all the years before electricity and I caught myself thinking smugly several times that I, too, could do that, but of course the difference being that I had running water, indoor plumbing, a phone line (and why do the phone lines never seem to go out?), a gas stove, ice, and ice chests. Not to mention a car to get in and drive to a store or a restaurant or even a motel if it all just got too hard.
So I remain in awe of those people who were hardier and more determined than I'll ever be and again, I have to thank them for building a house that that has remained solid and strong for all these years.
And it is time to get that generator fixed because life does go on and so does hurricane season and although we were more than lucky this time, we were reminded quite graphically that we need to keep our guard up, our batteries stocked, and the option of having a fan at night should this all happen again.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mama Nature Sure Can Be Bitchy

As the dearly departed James Brown might have said, "Good God, Y'all!"

Tropical Storm Fay came and squatted over us for two days, pissing over twenty inches of water. As much as I bitch about the lack of rain, I was overcome and in awe of the amount of it I saw coming from the sky in the last two days.

But we're still standing and our power's back on. I have to say that if you have water, gas, and a good camp light, life is not so bad without electricity. This is not to say that I'm not incredibly glad to have the prospect of sleeping with air conditioning before me tonight.

I raise a glass to John Gorrie, that crazy man who made AC possible.

I raise a glass to the people who built this house this house so strong and true.

And mostly, I raise a glass to the trees in my yard which are standing upright and tall.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy Birthday, My Love

This is a picture that was taken of Lynn on her birthday one year ago today.

Her sister made cupcakes, went to the nursing home and dressed Lynn, loaded her into the car and took her to a tiny park in Tallahassee where that beautiful oak tree lives.

Her mama, her brother, her son, her sister, me, and a couple of my kids gathered to celebrate Lynn's birthday for what we did not know, but suspected, might be her last.

Lynn seemed dreamy, and otherworldly, happy enough to be there, outside and with people she loved, but she was so obviously getting ready to cross that border into another place. The cupcakes confused her, she drifted from here to there and she really only engaged when my daughter started playing her mandolin.

And then Lynn danced.

On Lynn's fortieth birthday, which she celebrated in Houston, Texas where she was living then on a boat, she threw a huge party. I wasn't there, but I heard about it. I know there was rum and plenty of music and the dancing must have gone on all night.

Or almost all night.

That was the night Lynn got pregnant with her only child. The child she had yearned for her entire life.

Birthdays were always special to Lynn. She believed in birthdays and she believed in celebrating them with joy. There was always rum, there was always music, there were always lots and lots and lots of friends to dance with. So her birthday last year was a sort of subdued and pale imitation of all the ones that had come before, but at least there was music and a little bit of dancing and at least there was that oak tree, it's branches so old and spread they touched the ground. That tree seemed to call to Lynn because she kept heading for it and I'm mighty glad her sister got that picture.

Yesterday when I took my youngest shopping for food for her new apartment, we ran into Lynn's mama, which was a surprise because I never go to that Publix and really, what are the odds? She was shopping for storm supplies and also wine and Cheese Nips for the bridge club that was coming to her house today. We chatted about Lynn and how it was just about to be her birthday and how much we missed her and then I gave her a huge big hug and she hugged me back, far more strongly than you could imagine a woman in her eighties could hug. I could see Lynn in her mother and I could feel Lynn in her mother too and I think we were both comforted.
It was nice of the Universe to deliver us to each other so conveniently.

And that's what I'm thinking about today, sitting on my back porch as the rain comes down and the wind picks up as Tropical Storm Fay, a tricky storm if there ever was one (it's already hit Florida in three different places) drifts our way. The trees are rustling their petticoats, dancing with the wind, and I'm writing, dancing with the words, and I'm loving Lynn, wherever she is.

I sort of feel like she's sitting right here with me, and I like that. It's a peaceful feeling.
I see her smile, I see her twitch her skirt, I see her close her eyes so that she can listen to the music of the wind better. I think about the day I took her to Lake Ella for a walk and a sudden breeze sprang up and she closed her eyes and lifted both arm to the sky and swayed with it.
Then she opened her eyes and smiled at me.

I'm opening my eyes and I'm smiling with you.
Let's dance.
It's Lynn's birthday.
Let's dance. Whether with the wind or the Beatles or whatever music the universe is supplying to you right now, let's just dance.
Because it would make Lynn smile
And it's her birthday.

Another Perspective

Miss HoneyLuna (my baby daughter) has posted on her blog about what her first evening in her first apartment was like.
You may find that here if you wish:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I'm Tellin' You

I can't take this girl moving out ONE MORE TIME. She's ripping my heart out.

And these two? They already did.

How much of this coming and going can my old heart take?

When I was a young mother with four kids around me every moment with the chaos and the laundry and the meals and the lessons and the crying and the laughing and the ten thousandth viewing of Lady And The Tramp, I just thought I'd die if I didn't get some peace and quiet. Some time to myself.

And guess what?

That's not how it works.

That's not how it works at all.

Because all that chaos and cooking and mess and washing and worry and coming and going and work and noise- that was life.

The only one I've known for over thirty years.

I think it might be the quiet that kills me and wouldn't that just be ridiculous? Wouldn't that just be the way?

I need to find a new way. A new dance, a new reason to get up and get on with it.
And it's a struggle.
I feel like I'm going through another birth process.

Uh, Nurse, can I get my epidural now?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I'm feeling a lot better, although some days are better than others.
Yesterday was a fine day. My daughter and I went to town and shopped for a few things for the new apartment she's about to move into and we had lunch and I was just generally in a good mood and found myself smiling and laughing and just generally being happy, which feels at once "normal" and a miracle, both at the same time.
And today? Not so great. I just remembered that I hadn't taken my antidepressant yet today and I suppose that could be the reason, but I think not. I think it has more to do with my daughter and the fact that she's moving out again, taking a few bigger steps into her real, own life and it makes me think of myself when I was her age.
I moved away from my home in central Florida to go to college in Denver when I was eighteen and except for a few vacations, I essentially never returned. Home for me wasn't a place where love washed the corners, if you know what I mean. It was a place where the corners were dark and the secrets were many and too big to confront and I wanted nothing more to do with that place, although I missed my baby brothers so much that it was painful.
I used to dream that my parents would be killed in some freak accident and I would be given custody of those boys. I wanted to bring them into the light and raise them. I wanted to feed them good food and pour love all over them like golden honey and rock them to sleep at night and let them become little hippie boys and learn to grin from the heart and play in the woods and I wanted to teach them to trust and let them grow and become who they were meant to be, instead of scared little shadows slipping along the walls, hoping not to be noticed by their father.
But no one died and they, too, left that house as soon as they could and never went back. None of my siblings ever returned home to live after leaving. It just never occurred to us to do that.
On the other hand, all of my kids have returned home, at one time or another. I'm sure it wasn't exactly what they wanted to do, but I don't think it was too painful for them. People may bitch and moan about "yo-yo" children, but honestly, home is a good place to be if you need a good place to be and life has thrown a monkey wrench into the game plan. Things happen. Break-ups and marriages, problems that require a haven, a harbor, a temporary place to go where there's always a place at the table and clean sheets and people who love you, no matter what.
People who love you. No matter what.
And I think my kids know, no, I am certain that they know that wherever I am, that place will be there for them.
A place to be when feet need to be gotten back underneath them, when hearts need to be mended, when souls need to be tended.
I wish I had had that.
And perhaps that's where my sadness comes from today.
I never had that.
And I think I've spent my entire life regretting that, longing for it, and trying to create it.
Somehow, through some miracle, I believe I have and although I never want my children to suffer heartbreak or hardship, I know those are part of life. And I am so grateful that they have brought themselves home when those things occurred in their lives. I am more than grateful that they knew they could.
That they know they can.
Perhaps if I had had such a place, I wouldn't have to just blindly blunder down so many wrong paths by myself. If I had had a place to go for a time-out, to get my thoughts together, my head on straight, I wouldn't have made some of the mistakes I've made.
Or maybe I would have. Or made different ones. Who knows? It's all moot at this point.
But as my daughter leaves again, trying out those sweet damp wings, I can't help but grow a little teary; I can't help but confuse her leaving with my own so long ago.
I was fleeing, when I left and I went as far away as I could and I hoped never to have to return.
She is taking a short hop down the interstate and into town and I know she'll be back, over and over again because she loves this place that her daddy and I have made. This nest that we've created for her, for her sisters and her brother. She is not fleeing. She is flying towards her life and that girl? She is not afraid. Oh, she has her moments when she doesn't know what she wants to do, exactly and despairs that already, at nineteen, she isn't on the path she needs to be, doesn't know what her life plan should be.
"Oh honey," I tell her. "Who does?"
Only the lucky few, I think. The rest of us go along, falling into this or that, making our way as best we can.
And usually, it all works out.
And when the times come when it isn't, there's always home.
And each of them are in the process of learning to make their own homes. The ones they will perhaps raise their own children in. And I'm sure that those homes will be filled with love because my children know about love.

I bought a rocking chair the other day. It's not a great rocking chair and I already have quite a few rocking chairs, but this one called to me. It's upholstered and it's so comfortable. When you sit in it, you just feel comforted.
I showed it to my husband, that sweet wise man, and he sat in it and agreed that it was indeed, a most comfortable chair with a good rock. He patted the arms and said, "This is a grandmama chair."
My eyes opened wide and I realized- he was completely right. I'd bought a grandmama chair.
As far as I know, I have no immediate need for such a thing, but someday, someday.
Someday my kids will come home, not because there's a problem or a need for retreat, but because there's a baby and they'll want to visit and share the miracle that baby will be. They'll want that baby to learn what grandmama's house smells like and looks like and feels like.
And I will sit in my grandmama chair and I will rock that miracle, that baby and I'll lean over and whisper in that tiny, pink, tender seashell of an ear, "Welcome home, baby."
And I'll know that somehow, some way, I have traveled all the way from being that girl who fled a house where she never wanted to return, to this place where returning is a joy.
Because I have a home. And when I think about that, I can't help but feel the sadness lift and maybe, that feeling my chest is the rustling of tiny wings of hope, the tiny wings of satisfaction that no matter what, I have done something right. I have made some wonderful decisions in my life (Mr. Moon!) despite some very bad ones.
The chair is patient, it is waiting.
Me too.
And I'm home.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Look At Those Lines Carefully

And you will understand why these storms drive us mad!
It doesn't appear, at this moment, that Fay is going to be a major threat, although someone is going to get some bad weather off her. And others already have.
I was talking to a friend who lives in Nebraska after Katrina hit and she couldn't understand, with all the warnings that we get before a hurricane, why everyone didn't evacuate.
I tried to explain about hurricane forecasting and how people get complacent and how so very few New Orleans residents had personal vehicles but I still don't think she got it.
And we're definitely not looking at a situation like that here. I hope.
But still, it's maddening and I check the tropical weather web sites obsessively and I feel certain I am not the only one.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I've been thinking a bit lately about the whole mommy-blogger phenomenon and although I think it's a great thing in many ways, I am beginning to wonder what's going to happen when the children of these mommies (and daddies) grow up to become teenagers.

I know I'm not the only person to wonder about this and I'm sure that a lot of the bloggers themselves have at least a few dark moments of the soul in the early morning hours, pondering what's going to happen when the kids are old enough to actually read and understand that their entire lives have been documented and discussed in forums the whole world can view.

At least I hope they ponder that question.

It's one thing to talk about a baby. Babies are fair game for anyone's discussion, it seems to me. They're all adorable and they're all unbelievably frustrating and they can't talk yet and they all do the same basic things, which is eat, sleep, pee, poop, and learn major life tasks like how to get their fists in their mouth, how to turn over, and how to crawl.

And having had four babies and remembering the incredible isolation of young motherhood, I think that the blog is probably a wonderful outlet and way to connect with others for parents.

BUT, as children get older it seems unfair to me that their parents can use them as constant grist for the blog. I think of the pain and embarrassment a teenager suffers just at the thought of having real, actual parents who sometimes do horrible and torturous things like show potential boy-or-girlfriends baby pictures of them or kiss them in public, and then I think about how these kids will feel when they realize that it's quite possible for anyone, anyone in the world, to go online and read all about their potty-training, not to mention all the stories about the tantrums they threw, the cute things they did and said, and the developmental problems they may have suffered.

You know what?

I don't think it's going to be pretty.

And here's the bottom line for me- if you wouldn't post a blog about certain personal or private things that your boss or your mother or your spouse or your best friend did or said out of concern and consideration for them, what gives you the right to blog about these things when it comes to your kids? Even your little kids?

I can tell that some of the parent bloggers keep this in mind, or at least they seem to try. They do write about their children and tell stories about them but the line of respect doesn't get crossed. Because isn't that what this is really about?

Our children are not just little creatures we've brought into this world for the amusement of ourselves and others. They are actual, real human beings whose lives have been entrusted to us. They are deserving of our time, our energy, our concern, and our respect. Yes, we're the parents and they're the children, but they have lives which are not our lives. And until they're old enough to give their permission about what others may or may not write about them, it seems to me to be unfair and a bit cheap to blithely report on what, if written about a fellow adult, would be a blatant invasion of privacy.

All of us have done things in our childhoods that we would just as soon forget (and in fact, have blessedly forgotten in many instances), but for these children of the parent bloggers, there is nothing they will EVER be able to forget, no matter how much they wish, because it's all going to be right there, forever, in their mom or dad's web site. Including embarrassing pictures.

So here's what I'm saying- if you're writing something about your child that you wouldn't write about your spouse- think again. Believe me, that cute little toddler you have is not going to love you for describing his or her antics in the bathtub to THE ENTIRE WORLD when he or she is fifteen.

Sound ridiculous? Well, so are teenagers. And if you can't remember the humiliation that your own parents could bestow on you with nothing but their presence, let me remind you. And no, you, of course, are nothing like your own parents were. YOU ARE COOL, right? And your kids know it!

But I'll tell you something- what a five-year old or even a ten or eleven-year old thinks is cool is NOT what a fifteen year old thinks is cool.

Don't take my word for it. Just try and remember. Negotiating the teen years with kids is difficult enough. Giving them fodder for everlasting hostility is really not something anyone needs to do.

I think folks should just be respectful of the small people we are (usually) blessed to share our lives with.

And one other thing: When these children grow up and we're in our doddering old age, they're going to be writing about US. In the nursing home. Wearing Depends. Losing our teeth and our minds.

And payback? It's gonna be hell.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


My daughter, Miss Maybelle, has posted an extremely powerful piece at
I suggest you stop by and read it.

Yeah. Well. It is hurricane season. Here in North Florida in the panhandle, we're used to being the target of every durn model of the path of whatever tropical disturbance/soon-to-be-a-hurricane that gets projected.
It's...anxiety producing.
The first hurricane I remember was one named Donna back in 1960. I was living on the east coast of Florida then, was a small child, and can remember watching trees bending over in ways I had no clue, up until then, that trees could bend.
They are far more flexible than you can imagine.
But as I learned in 1985 during Hurricane Kate, they are not as flexible as you would like. That gal hit us with a force which knew no bounds and every yard in Tallahassee had trees downed and cars hit and roofs staved in and we were without power for weeks. The roads were covered in branches and debris to the point where you couldn't drive on them to get to a store that might have food and ice if you wanted to and your car wasn't smashed. It was a big, fat lesson in how dependent we are on things like roads and electricity. Our phones still somehow worked and friends from out of town would call after viewing the resulting mess on TV and ask how we were doing and what was going on. It was eye-opening to realize that they knew more than we did, being limited as we were for information to battery-operated radios and the places we could walk, crawling over fallen trees and downed power lines.
Don't get me wrong- I've never suffered through anything like Katrina or Andrew, but I'll be completely happy if I never do. I remember during Hurricane Kate, sitting in the hallway of our house with the kids and the radio, my youngest then being only two months old, as the wind outside howled and trees cracked and then came the sound of a train, knowing we were nowhere near a train track. Little tornado spinners were flung off from the winds and we held our breath as the rain slashed and we hoped the roof would remain intact, the walls would stand.
We were lucky and they did, but what I realized is that being a hurricane is not unlike being in labor- once it's begun, there is no way out and there is no way to stop it. There is only hunkering down and acceptance.
And here comes, quite possibly, another. The thing is, you never know exactly what the circumstances are going to be until the last moment, and even then, not exactly. All those model paths that show Fay coming our way are just that- computer models. And they don't forecast what the storm's strength will be. Will the storm linger over the warm waters of the Gulf, gathering power and fury and then aiming itself our way to spend it on top of our heads?
Don't know.
And of course we're not ready. The generator isn't working. I have no idea if I have the batteries I need. Water in jugs? Nah. Canned food? Sure. If you like fat-free evaporated milk.
I think of all the grouper and venison in the freezer. I think with even more dread of the water oak in the front yard that is going to pitch itself onto my roof one of these days, dammit, given the right circumstances and I hope the right circumstances don't present themselves next week.
We have these giant sacred live oaks with branches extending over the house that are bigger than most entire trees. My house has been here for almost 150 years and has obviously weathered more than a few storms, but it's still vulnerable.
As are we all.
Which is what these storms and other forces of nature remind us of in graphic and sometimes terrifying ways.
When it's just you and your family and all the panting, terrified dogs, sitting in what you perceive to the be safest spot of your house with a smokey kerosene lantern throwing ghostly shadows up on the walls and the winds roaring outside and the yard washing itself away in the flooding waters, you know in no uncertain terms what the nature of nature is.
She can be cruel, y'all.
I think I'll go buy some canned goods and batteries.
I think I'll round up some candles and make sure I have lamp oil.
And the waiting begins.

Friday, August 15, 2008

All Is Well

Got through this day and all is well. I even reached out and grabbed that nurse practitioner's hand and thanked her. She looked surprised. Think how surprised she would have been if I'd actually hugged her.

And my mother? Here's the really good news and something for us all to look forward to: after you're eighty, no more colonoscopies unless there's a really good reason. I don't know who's happier about this, my mother or me, but either way, I'm about to celebrate.

Thanks for all the support. Somehow I'm not sure I would have made it through the last month without every one of you.
Is that weird?
Oh well.
I love the Weird Wide Web.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Proof This Shit Is Working

Tomorrow I have a doctor's appointment at 9:20 a.m. AND I have to take my mother to get a colonoscopy AT THE HOSPITAL (when you're over eighty you have to get these procedures done where they can bring you back to life if you die, I guess) and despite my terror of dealing with all things medical AND my incredibly bad relationship with my mother, I am only thinking about how much I dread tomorrow about once every two minutes and it's after 9 a.m. and I AM NOT DRINKING YET!
(That's a little joke, okay?)
But still.
Time for a walk.
(Please forgive all the caps. I guess I am feeling a teeny bit anxious.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

And So It Goes

I've been slightly silent for awhile on the subject how I'm doing because I can't imagine that it's not the most boring subject in the world and frankly, I myself am bored senseless by myself.
But somehow it seems important to tell the truth and the truth is, I'm still not doing great. I've been on this medication for a dozen days, which isn't long enough, really, I know, for it to have kicked in.
On the up-side, I'm not walking around in a state of panic anymore, which is wonderful, phenomenal, and amazing. For that, I am grateful beyond all measure. I am still what I would call anxious, but it's far from panic. I can, in short, live with it. The panic I was feeling two weeks ago was so intense that when I think back on it, I know in a small way what post-traumatic stress feels like. It was really bad.
And now? Well, it's more like despair but with an edgy bite. It's an active depression, almost. It's hard to put into words how I feel. There is still not a lot of pleasure and almost everything I think of doing now or in the future seems futile. I can't seem to write on my fiction because that seems to be just a complete exercise in futility. I just looked up the word "futile" in the thesaurus because I hate to use the same word twice in a paragraph but no other word listed as a synonym seemed to fit. Futile is futile. I feel futile.
I believe I need to get out more. I need to find something to direct my energy towards. The problem is, nothing I can think of is anything I'd want to do. I realize this is part of the whole depression thing. Everything seems overwhelming, from trying to figure out what to cook for dinner to getting out in the garden and clearing out the dead stuff.
Being with friends and family is also something I need to do more of, but that, too, can be hard. I find myself crawling into my own mind during conversation and I become quiet. It is not unpleasant to be in these situations- it is almost soothing to hear others talk, but I just don't feel engaged at all.
Interestingly enough, I ran into my old therapist on Sunday. She's no longer doing traditional therapy, but is doing a more new-age thing with chakra workshops and I don't know what all and perhaps I should try some of that. Who knows? Again, everything seems ridiculous to me and I seem to just be floating in a sort of gray mist that makes decisions impossible, makes any path look as good (or bad) as any other.
I continue to exercise and have discovered that not-exercising is not an option for me. My body can't hold the stress without it.
And that's me.
I am not in complete despair. I know, logically, that I will feel hope and pleasure and even joy again. I know that.
And I remain grateful for that knowledge, for the support of my family and friends and for this outlet for my words.
I'm going to figure this thing out because really, I have no choice. This is not quite living that I'm doing. It's existing and given the circumstances of my life, merely existing is an affront to life.
That's how I see it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


My friend Lynn always said that instead of throwing away the hair in your brush, you should take it outside and let the wind take it to wherever the birds can find it to use in their nests.
And I do that.
It seems unclear on whether or not birds can smell, but if they do, I wonder how many birds have grown up around here, thinking that my head smells like home?

Monday, August 11, 2008


We need rain. It's dry again. My blueberries are drooping and my zinnias are turning brown and leaning over precariously. The garden is about gone. It's August and the last watermelons have been picked and the only thing still putting out are the tomatoes and they're getting smaller and gnarlier but we haven't been putting much attention out there. Too hot, too weedy, too buggy.

Why do fire ants love okra so much?

I've been...distracted and Mr. Moon has been busy.
His newest thing is that he's acquired a motorcycle. He intends to sell it but he wants to enjoy it a bit before then and it makes me nervous. Everything makes me nervous but this really makes me nervous. It just goes against all common sense to sit on something and ride it on extremely hot asphalt at speeds of over ten miles an hour. With no walls. Or seat belts. With cars and trucks sharing the same road. You could just have a spell and fall off, it seems to me, although I've never just "fallen off" a chair that I was sitting in, but still, it could happen.

Yesterday he convinced me to take a leisurely drive down to St. Marks with him for lunch and since I have a fairly fatalistic view about everything right now, plus the fact that food would be involved, I agreed. I never know what to wear on a motorcycle. It's not like I have any leather chaps or black t-shirts that say Biker Bitch on the back nor do I have leather fingerless gloves or even black boots except for a pair of pointy-toed cowboy boots that I've had longer than I've had Mr. Moon and they're sort of tight so I just wore my walking shoes. I wasn't even sure if my jeans would fit, it's been so long since I've had them on, but they did, and I put on a shirt and then for sun protection, I buttoned up a long, baggy, blue linen shirt over the other shirt and when I presented myself to my youngest daughter she looked doubtful.
"Wrong?" I asked her.
She nodded.
"Too flappy, you think?" I asked.
"Yeah," she said.
I left the room and she probably fell on the floor, choked with silent tear-producing laughter.
I put on a long-sleeved t-shirt and left it at that.
I managed to buckle up the helmet and get on the back of the bike and we took off down Highway 59 and Mr. Moon drove carefully and probably far more slowly than he would have liked to but he's being very protective of me these days and he didn't want to scare me.
We stopped at the St. Marks river and got off the bike and stretched and walked down to the water and observed the activity there. A little boy kept asking his father, "Daddy, do you like your boat? Do you Daddy?" The daddy never did answer.

We had lunch down at the River Side and it was okay. We had shrimp sandwiches with lots of Crystal hot sauce and iced tea and then we got back on the bike and headed home.

I had hoped that it would be somehow thrilling or that I'd recapture some sort of sense of fun and adventure but although I enjoyed the ride a lot, I mainly felt a bit removed from it all, just gliding by the trees and ponds, houses and horses, thinking strange long thoughts about how I have managed to be this person, this woman, living this life, taking this ride on a Sunday.

I came up with no conclusions.

We've been watching the Olympics and what I've loved the most so far was the parade of all the athletes during the opening ceremony. It seemed to me that these men and women are quite possibly the most beautiful humans on earth. Some of them came from countries so small that the population watching in the giant stadium was bigger than their population at home. Those faces reflected the most awe and wonder and shyness and I could have cried, thinking about all the different journeys that were taken to get to that place, walking behind the flag of your country with six or two-hundred of your countrymen or women, about to try and do something so hard that it's taken almost your entire life to be able to do it with enough skill and strength and grace to get to this point.

Every person at the Olympics has his or her own story and most of them so much more interesting and amazing than mine I can't believe it. Almost insurmountable obstacles and challenges overcome and entire lives dedicated to doing this one thing whether its swimming or diving or flying through the air or balancing on bars or running or jumping or whatever it is that each person does and here we are, sitting in our living rooms watching as beautiful human beings do impossible things with their beautiful human bodies and their beautiful human faces show their joys, their hopes, their fears and their frustrations.

And what all that has to do with riding a motorcycle down to St. Marks with my husband, I do not know, except that there are many ways to fly, many journeys to take and I have mine as you have yours.

The girl in the picture above is Elise Ray, a former Olympic gymnast and her mother is a midwife who delivered one of my babies. I was there when Elise was born and she looked just like a regular baby, beautiful as any of them and yet, she learned to fly. We didn't see her wings when she was born, but she had them.

I think most of us do.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

When The Private Becomes Public

So- yet another male politician who proclaimed himself to be all about faithfulness and truthfulness has been outed as just one more guy who couldn't keep it in his pants.

I'm sorry, but I have to ask this question- MEN! What's UP with that?
Oh, bad choice of words. Actually, good choice of words.

I am quite frankly baffled. It's not that I don't understand how infidelity happens. And it's not like I think it's really anyone's business UNLESS you've run for president and said something like this to Katie Couric in an interview:

"I think every single candidate for president, Republican and Democratic have lives, personal lives, that indicate something about what kind of human being they are. And I think it is a fair evaluation for America to engage in, to look at, what kind of human beings each of us are, and what kind of president we'd make."

And then? Well, it is everyone's business. While presenting himself as a family man invested entirely in his wife and children, as a man who was living with the knowledge that his wife's health was tenuous (and I don't care if her cancer was in remission- that's such a ridiculous subterfuge) he went right on ahead and not only slept with this other woman, he paid her over a hundred thousand dollars, which is not an insignificant sum, out of campaign money, for making campaign videos although she had no experience in the field at all. That covers a lot of bases in why it's our business. He was putting himself out there as a candidate for president under the guise of being who he was NOT. And he himself made that point quite succinctly.

But the thing that makes me wide-eyed in wonder is this- he KNEW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if the knowledge of this affair got out, it would not only devastate his wife and children, it would quite certainly end any political hopes he had. And he certainly seemed to have a lot. When it was announced that his wife's cancer had reoccurred and that they were going to go ahead with his run for president, I was frankly astounded. I even thought about writing about it. But I decided that really, it was their business, their decision, and if his run for office was that important to them, who was I to judge?

And I don't think I'm really judging the man for having had an extramarital affair. What I am judging him for is his stupidity and hypocrisy. Sometimes urges overcome common sense. I am aware of that. But when those urges overcome every decent moral fiber and every bit of logic and intelligence that a man has- well, I just have to shake my head in wonder.

Perhaps we'd all be better off if our country wasn't so damn puritanical about such things. If we were more like the French who don't pretend to be so shocked when a politician or public figure has a mistress or even another family on the side. It's almost expected that a man in power would take every advantage of his situation. If the man and his wife are at a place of understanding about such an affair, who are we to judge?

But we're not like that here in the good old US of A. Our politicians and public figures have to present themselves as heterosexual, faithful Christians to get elected to anything, which of course only leads to situations exactly like this one.

Either we need to grow up and accept that all humans are fallible and quit caring so much about what happens in what used to be called the "private lives" of others or else the people who seem to raise their voices the most stridently in defense of God, Chastity, and Truth need to walk the walk as well as they talk the talk.

And I just feel so sad for the families that these men's actions tear apart.

And I am baffled.

Friday, August 8, 2008


One of the weirdest and most difficult things about depression is how it completely eliminates the ability to enjoy anything. Happiness seems like an impossibility. Not just future happiness, but past happiness as well. I keep trying to remember happy moments and I can think of moments when I know I was happy, but I can not for the life of me, recall what that happiness felt like.
Isn't that odd?
Why does the brain do this? Is there a disorder in which the opposite is true? Where the brain can't feel anything BUT happiness?
Oh, maybe that's called "being on ecstasy." It used to just kill me in nursing school when we were studying drugs and one would have the unwanted side effect of "feelings of euphoria." Yeah, like that's a bad, bad thing, right? Wish I could remember what those drugs were.
Anyway, I think that part of trying to recover from depression is learning to replace those unhappy, negative thoughts with happy, positive ones and I've been thinking and thinking about that. Instead of dwelling on the crap, crazy childhood, the many, many times I've fucked up in my life and my current inability to think, or write, or enjoy my life, I've been trying to dredge up memories that make me...uh, happy.
So far, I keep coming up with things that SHOULD make me happy like holding my babies for the first time or getting married to Mr. Moon or being in Mexico with him and watching the way the moon painted a silver path across the water to Tulum and I'm sure I was happy at all those precious moments but I can't feel it.
And logically, I understand that this inability is just a symptom of an illness and not a reality but in a way, that's like saying that someone is suffering from pain simply because his leg is broken. Yeah, I get the connection but it doesn't cure the ill.
It's just such a heavy place. It sucks all the life out of me and it makes me want to crawl in bed and I'm trying very hard not to give in to that urge. I try to think of things I'd like to do that would bring me some joy or at least amusement, and nothing seems like it would be a good time.
I can't imagine how much fun it must be to live with me right now. Poor Mr. Moon should get an award and I'm sure he wishes hunting season would get here already so that he would have an excuse to go spend the night in the woods.
Anyway, in the spirit of trying, here are a few memories I have that I am CERTAIN were happy times:
Being in plays at the Monticello Opera House.
The poetry reading I did with an old friend in a bar in Winter Haven, Florida where people came up afterwards and asked for my autograph. On cocktail napkins.
The road trip that Maxine and I took to St. Pete where we met the two beautiful old ladies and where Maxine and I got several marriage proposals because we were so lovely in our hats.
All the trips I've taken with my husband, from the one to the Bahamas where we stopped the action in a casino just by walking in (we were so young and so beautiful and he's so tall), to the ones we took in the convertible through the cool, dark piney woods up to Bainbridge, Georgia for the night.
The day we moved into this house.
All the fun nights I've had with my family and with Billy and his wife, laughing our asses off, playing silly games.
The night I had an impromptu party where some of my very favorite musicians appeared and played music on my back porch and I doubt I ever smiled so much in my life. That was the night we all got to meet Juancho.
The first time I ever saw The Blues Brothers and I laughed so hard I embarassed my then-husband.
The first time I ever saw Bruce Springsteen.
Every time a midwife has said to me, "I can see the head!"
Watching my brother with his babies.
Watching my kids do amazing things and becoming the amazing people they are.
Reading Little Women for the first time.
Reading Little Women for the second, third, and fourth times.
Writing things that have made me say, "Yes. That is what I meant to say," whether a poem or an essay or a novel.
Standing on a dock over the Sebastian River the day I turned fifty-two as the sun set and the fish in the water made it boil as they fed and thrashed and the wind came down through the palms and pines and the egret stood on the sand bar.

And so many, many more. I know I have had happiness, and even more importantly, I know I will have more. I hang on to that and I have to believe.

Now. If you want to. Tell me what's made you happy. Give me a picture. Make us all smile.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Short Little Thought

I've been thinking a bit about how strange the medical profession is these days. When I went in and saw that nurse practitioner last Friday I spilled my soul to her. It was messy. The floor probably needed mopping when I left. And she asked me some pretty darn personal questions which were necessary and when she gave me the sample pack of antidepressants to take she had to warn me that if I started having suicidal OR homicidal thoughts, I should definitely call. And I nodded and agreed and took my pills home with me and that was that.
Wouldn't you think that in a perfect world, someone would have called me by now to ask how it was going? Just a simple follow-up? I mean, my anguish was fairly profound and they did give me medication which is supposed to rewire my brain and which, I suppose, could cause me to have homicidal thoughts.
But no. Just call in if I think I might kill myself or someone else and oh, yes, come back in two weeks.
Also, I am thinking, in a perfect world I could have hugged that woman for listening and offering help, but even in my present state of perpetual hugging need, I could not bring myself to put my arms around her, that nurse practitioner in the white coat with the frizzy red hair and the serious expression.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Breakfast In A Normal World

I had to go to town this morning to get some blood drawn for basic lab stuff and afterwards, I took myself to a Waffle House for breakfast, which is something I hardly ever do. For me, breakfast is almost always a small bowl of fibrous flakes of one sort or another with a piece of fruit cut up on them and some soy milk poured over. But I was feeling pretty good and wanted to celebrate that and it had been a fasting blood test and I was hungry.

It was late for breakfast and early for lunch so there were plenty of tables and I sat down at one with my newspaper and the waitress came over right away, complaining before she got her pad out about being tired, but not bitterly, just matter-of-fact, I'm tired, getting up at six is rough, etc.

I nodded in understanding, then gave her my order and read my paper and it was so nice there, in the Waffle House, being surrounded by other humans, eating their breakfasts and drinking their coffee, everyone using their table manners and their inside voices. The Waffle House is sort of the level playing field of the country, like the watering hole in the forest. Weary travelers of all types come in for the eggs and grits and coffee and juice and the grilled cheese sandwiches, rich and poor alike, The Waffle House is always there just waiting for you by the interstate; easy off, come on in, have a seat, fill you up, send you on your way, have a nice day.

I ate my breakfast and it was good, the way it always is. Nothing fancy or free-range or organic or rain-forest friendly or whole grained about it. Just plain food but all the more enjoyable for that somehow if you don't eat it regularly. Reminds me of how my kids used to love the white bread at my mother's house, it was so soft and easy to eat, nothing like the whole wheat I forced down their poor little throats day-in and day-out.

I finished up and left a good tip because it is rough, getting up at six, to go stand on your feet and serve heavy plates of American food to hungry people for eight hours a day. Plus, she was a good waitress, my waitress, and got my order just right and asked me several times if I needed anything else, although I never did.

It was lovely, that half hour or so, feeling so normal, feeling like everyone else seems to feel, just a regular woman in a Waffle House with the sun shining on her, eating a breakfast, reading a newspaper, the juke box playing some good tunes but not so loudly that it interfered with anyone's conversation, anyone's thoughts.

I always get raisin toast at the Waffle House and they bring you apple butter when you order the raisin toast.

It was especially good today, not burnt in the least, but nicely toasted, like the cook had paid attention, and I appreciated that, I surely did, because it's not always that way.

So when it's just right, the raisin toast, you need to appreciate it.

And I did. I appreciated every bite.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Neither Cosmic Nor Profound, But What I Know Right Now

Some things I have realized in the past few weeks:

Finding myself in a place of uncontrollable anxiety and depression has been completely shocking. Realizing that there was nothing I could do on my own to create relief was terrifying.

Experiencing a situation like this makes me so much more compassionate for the suffering of others. I am finding it much harder to judge others whom I may have been more apt to judge just a month ago.

The body and the mind are not two separate things. At all. Working on healing the mind helps the body and working on healing and strengthening the body helps heal and strengthen the mind. Yoga today was hard for me but it felt exactly right. I was shaky, but I felt strong, too, and that was reassuring.

Human touch is a powerful tool for healing. Just having my husband near enough to reach and touch recently has been an amazing relief for me. I find myself reaching out and hugging people whom I might not normally hug and I really believe that there is something inside me that knows this is a healing act. And some people are very, very fine huggers.

Finding myself in a place that I would normally think of as very weak has shown me the strength that it requires to ask for help for myself. Far more strength than it takes to offer help. And that in asking and in receiving, there can be great comfort.

Just as it is very difficult to ask for help, it can be very difficult for some us (the caretakers) to take care of ourselves. Taking care of ourselves can mean many things. It can mean eating the food we need, getting the exercise we need, getting the rest we need, and saying "no" to things we know will only be stressful for us and "yes" to things that we know will be restorative. It means being patient with ourselves and non-judgemental.

I believe that I will be a better person, a better wife, a better mother for having gone through all of this. And I am not a person who believes that there is good to be found in everything or that every cloud has its silver lining. BUT, I will at least know more about myself and be more patient and more caring towards myself and others.

I am grateful beyond belief for my family. My husband has shown his love for me in such profound and tangible ways in the last weeks that I only know I love him more than ever. And my children have been there for me in every way.

And really, that's what I've learned. Hard lessons. Hard, hard lessons. But I guess sometimes that's what it takes.

And one more- it helps ME to share. Being able to write these posts and hear words of encouragement and "I have been there and gotten better and you will too" has given me comfort when comfort was the only thing I could hope for.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Small Is Good

In my opinion, today is one of the most beautiful days of this entire summer so far.

Or perhaps it's just that my mind has calmed down enough to enjoy it.

I don't know which and it doesn't matter, just as it doesn't matter why my mind has calmed down this much. Could it possibly be from the antidepressant's effect already? Who cares? If it's "only" the placebo effect, I congratulate my brain for it's ability to make me feel so much saner than it has in months and I just have to wonder why the fuck it's been doing the opposite for so long.

I feel a little uh, what I'd call "drugged" but that, too, is fine with me. My stomach doesn't hurt, my mind doesn't hurt, my hands and feet aren't tingling, I don't have a lump in my throat and I can look out at this beautiful green day with a temperature and humidity that feel practically fall-like in that they can't be higher than the low 90's and I say, "Phew, thank God and the pharmaceutical industry."

This week my newly-married daughter and her newly-minted husband have moved out of my house and into their own apartment. My youngest daughter and I went to visit her there today and it was so nice, seeing the couple in their first real nest. They have finally been able to unpack and use some of their wedding presents and even though the apartment is relatively small and old, it's funky and charming and it's light and airy and has hardwood floors and the most amazing cool turquoise hot water heater from the fifties you have ever seen in your life. Seriously, it's a work of art.

The apartment is in an old red brick complex and another one of my daughters lives there too, right across the courtyard and it makes me happy to think of that, them being within shouting distance of each other. There are pine trees and there's a clothesline and a little building where you can do your laundry. Back in the seventies, I knew another couple who lived there for awhile and my own very first apartment was right across the street in an old house that has since burned down but I remember it well.

Seeing my daughter in her own apartment brought all that back to me, how it felt to have my very own nest with my very own kitchen and very own living room and very own bathroom. It felt great. It too had hardwood floors and lots of trees around it and I remember once I got up to find a black snake, curled around the top of my stove. I was leaving for the weekend and remember telling that snake, "Look, you be gone when I get back."
He was.
I remember lying in the bed in the mornings and watching the shadows the trees cast on the walls and ceiling, how that felt, that lazing about with no one to claim my time or my energy, no one to observe or judge me, and it felt like complete freedom.

I hope that Lily and Jason feel that way now. It's their first living-alone together experience and I think they are really happy. I love seeing Lily in her own kitchen with her pots and pans and her dinner ware. She offered me coffee or juice or soda and I happily took a cup of coffee and sat on her couch and it just felt right and it felt peaceful. One of her kitty cats came out and made love to my purse on the table, rubbing her head all over it, sniffing and caressing it and then she fell asleep with one of its straps wrapped around her ankle.
It was lovely. And I could appreciate that.

I felt brave enough to go out to lunch with my youngest daughter and then we went to a Walgreens where I felt a little bit trippy and was amazed at the vast collection of drugs that a drug store sells, along with power tools and beach wear, cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, and Ben and Jerry's ice cream. You could live in a Walgreens quite happily, I think.

And now I'm home on this beautiful day, sitting in my office and looking out at all the green. Yesterday's rain did indeed bring a new level of glory to the trees and grass and flowers and I'm actually pleased to be alive.

That knowledge makes me even happier.

It is, of course, always the simple things, but it's having the calmness of spirit to appreciate that which makes it true.

I believe I'll go out to the garage where the man is contemplating his car's oil pressure and rub my head all over his chest although I doubt he'll let me fall asleep with anything of his wrapped around my ankle. He probably would, if I asked, but I've asked an awful lot of him lately. I think I'll just tell him how much I love him and then let him be.

He, like this day, is a miracle to me.

The miracle being, of course that I actually know it, I can actually feel it.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Putting The Psycho In Psychosomatic

About a month ago I wrote a post about my bizarre form of hypochondria- one in which I am constantly anxious about one terminal illness or another which I think I have but am prevented by my neurotic fears of doctors from going to get checked out.

It's like some sort of symbiotic neurosis thing and generally, what happens is that the symptoms of whatever illness I perceive that I have do just go away and then I get another, but in the past weeks, the symptoms have remained the same. Of course, I did not go see anyone about this problem but instead, grew more and more anxious to the point where I was, to be honest, almost incapacitated.

And truthfully, this was all a true which-came-first, the-chicken-or-the-egg mystery because I wasn't sure whether I was anxious because of the symptoms or whether my main problem was just the anxiety which caused me to focus almost entirely on them and it didn't really matter because just the fact that I was not seeking help was a sign in and of itself that I really needed to.

So finally, today, I called my doctor and got an appointment to get in to see the nurse practitioner. By the time I got to the office, I was in panic attack mode. I've been in what I would call a mild panic attack for weeks now, really, but this was more intense. I'm surprised I didn't blow the blood pressure gauge off the wall.

I told the NP about my "symptoms" and about my anxiety and depression and she looked at my problem and told me everything seemed entirely normal to her and then suggested an antidepressant which can help with the anxiety, as well as depression.

I practically snatched those samples out of her hand because I need help and I know it.

I am quite aware that medication is not the entire solution to problems like this but if there was ever a time for better living through chemicals, I would say this is it. I don't even want to know what the side effects of this drug are because I don't care as long as it offers me some relief.
I'm tired of being scared and fearful and crazy and it's not fair to me or to my family. My husband, bless him, bless him, bless him- again- is going quietly crazy worrying about me. And the damn problem with "mental health issues" (insanity) is that there's such a strong part of the person suffering who feels so guilty thinking, Jesus Christ, I have the best life in the world, I am surrounded by love and support- I need to just snap out it!

Yeah. That doesn't work.

But the guilt-oh the guilt!- remains.

And so, for right now, I am trying this drug and just knowing that it might help is helping. I feel completely exhausted from struggling so hard the last few weeks that I just want to crawl up in bed and sleep and I feel shaky and I feel sad, but I don't feel entirely out of control.

I know I need to try and figure out what it was that got me here. I think it's probably an entire cocktail of genes, chemicals, and events, both past and present. Let's face it- the past year was a tough one. I went through enough changes and had enough losses to throw anyone and if you're me, and not entirely sane to begin with AND you're in menopause AND you're facing a birthday AND something weird in the body starts happening, AND you don't deal with change and loss well, you might just end up needing some help.

Which I did.

So here I go. And it's sort of scary to put this all out there in the world but from the comments I've gotten in the past few weeks, I have to believe that people care. And more than that, if one person reading this is suffering the way I have been suffering and thinks, "I am not alone," then it will all have been worth it. Because I have felt so alone in this, afraid to talk about it, even to the people I love and who love me the most. All of that is part of the craziness and I want to be done with as many parts of the craziness as I can.

All of a sudden I sort of feel like that Fannie Flagg character, Neighbor Dorothy, who broadcast her little radio show from her living room out to the neighbors in her county, giving out recipes and homemaking and gardening tips and telling little stories and giving the local news and weather. Perhaps that's me, Neighbor Ms. Moon, telling my little stories and giving you recipes for angel biscuits and saying it rained today and tomorrow the grass will be greener.

And today I'm saying let's all hold hands and not be so afraid, as corny as that sounds. We're all afraid of something but the trick is, to learn how not to be prisoners of that fear.

I don't know how to do that, but I'm trying to learn. Seems like a good skill to have, here in these days and times.

I'll pass on what I learn. You do too.

And thank every one of you who has written me comments or who has even just sent me good thoughts. Every blessed one of you. Even though I didn't feel able to answer them all, they were coming in and I was reading them and my heart was filled and I didn't feel quite so alone.

I mean it.

Over and out until tomorrow.

Neighbor Ms. Moon